This month, EBONY is celebrating trailblazing women and non-binary people of color who are breaking boundaries across industries and living life on their own terms.

Through her art, Janelle Monáe gives voice to the voiceless and comfort to the afflicted as a queer Black trailblazer from Kansas. After coming out as pansexual in 2018, last April she revealed herself to be nonbinary. Monáe uses she/her or they/them pronouns but says that her preferred pronoun is "freeassmuthafucka."

For Monáe's inaugural EBONY cover shoot, our team collaborated with the singer-songwriter-actress' Wondaland Arts Society for a visionary partnership that embodies the trailblazing spirit of the envelope-pushing multihyphenate.

Themed, "The Age of Pleasure," the visuals position Janelle in a variety of settings that are symbolic of the free spirit that Janelle lives by. Photographed at Hubble Studios in Los Angeles, CA, EBONY Photo Director Keith Major captured provocative portraits in-studio that portray the star in varying modes of expression. Fresh off the heels of a Caribbean vacation, Monáe served up body-loving goodness, wearing colorful clothing with cut-outs, mesh details and sleek silhouettes.

The team tapped collage artist Bria Sterling to add an additional layer of dimension to the final execution, building whimsical environments around Monáe in her signature mixed media style. The final imagery includes provocative portraiture with a slight 1970s feel, Sterling's signature collage work, double exposure treatments that conjure vintage vibes, and other graphic explorations.

For our exclusive cover story, writer Tre’vell Anderson visited the creative’s home studio in Hollywood just hours before their latest track, “Float” debuted. An anthem of liberation and possibility, the song signals a new era for the visionary. The award-winning singer-songwriter-actress talks with Anderson about how embracing their identity contributed to her personal and creative liberation.

Check out the article, behind-the-scenes videos, and exclusive content around Monáe’s forthcoming album. Plus, Women Who Rulebreak—a guide to living life on your own terms from some of today’s leading stars as we celebrate Women's History Month.

Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.